Jean Bauer [databases, history, photography]

Through a combination of formal training and curiosity, I am a database designer and developer, a data analyst, a historian of power and communication, and a photographer.

I blog on Packets: Musings on Information Exchange and tweet as @jean_bauer.

You can read my bio at the end of the page.



I am an open source developer with a special interest in relational databases and data visualization. All my code can be found on my github page. I am the lead developer on two open source tools:

Project Quincy is a Django application with a MySQL database that uses information about people, places, and organizations to trace how social networks and institutions develop over time and through space. It is named in honor of John Quincy Adams (1767-1848).

DAVILA is a relational database schema visualization and annotation tool. It is written in Processing using the toxiclibs physics library. I built DAVILA to help database developers create visually appealing and semantically rich interactive diagrams to document their database designs, and to support shared understanding with both programmers and non-programming data analysts.

Research and Design

My research interests range from data structures to 18th-century diplomacy to information design. I attack these questions by combining theoretical investigation and research with data modeling, application development, and data visualization. As Associate and then Research Director of the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton I worked on every project we accepted from 2014-2018. Below are some of my favorite projects. For a full list see the CDH Project Page and my CV.

Compass Rose in light brown; text reads 'The Early American Foreign Service Database' The Early American Foreign Service Database

is an open access repository and analysis platform for the study of American diplomats, consuls, and special agents from 1775-1825. The EAFSD recreates the social, commercial, and epistolary networks of the U.S. Foreign Service in the Age of Sail by connecting people, places, and organizations through the transfer of information by letters or permanent overseas assignments. The EAFSD is built on Project Quincy, and has been live since 2010.

Derrida's Margins: Inside the Personal Library of Jacques Derrida

is an open source, open access research tool allowing scholars to explore how French philosopher Jacques Derrida annotated the books in his private library as he wrote his career defining work, De la grammatologie (Of Grammatology). I designed the database for Derrida's Margins, and developed a structure which parallels Derrida's own theories of reading and the interrelationship of all text.

Abstract book drawing; text reads 'Mapping Colonial Americans Publishing' The Mapping Colonial Americas Publishing Project

is a collaboration with James Egan, Professor of English at Brown University, to map the spatial and genre distribution of printing in the Americas before 1800 using the rare book catalog records of the John Hay and John Carter Brown Special Collections Libraries. In the process, the project reads rare book catalogs as texts to be studied and modeled. The project integrates Spanish, French, Dutch, and English colonial printing with American Indian texts from North and South America and provides a visual portal of rare books held at Brown University.

Designs for Microsoft Surface Declaration of Independence, Digital Exhibit

I designed a prototype digital exhibit of the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection at the University of Virginia using a first-generation Microsoft Surface. It was touch-based and the size of a large coffee table, thus supporting inquiry by up to four simultaneous users.

Infographic of Letter Anatomy of a Letter

I created this as a handout for my talk, "Reading Other People's Mail: Letters as Primary Sources," in the Harrison Institute Original Sources Lecture Series at the University of Virginia Library.

I used it to illustrate the basic structure of any letter and how key components (dates, names, places) can be programmatically pulled from text to recreate correspondence networks.



I work with clients to find meaningful answers in messy data. Depending on the project this can involve:

I can work independently, partner with an existing team, and/or train your employees to accomplish these tasks.


I work with organizations who seek to generate knowledge through providing better access to data and resources. I help them become more effective by articulating their mission and goals, and by empowering their people to find new solutions. I have particular experience in:

To schedule a consultation, please contact me directly: jb [at] jeanbauer [dot] com.


Talks and Workshops

I am available to speak on a number of topics to technical and non-technical audiences either as an invited speaker or as a workshop leader. Topics include:

To discuss a talk or workshop please contact me directly: jb [at] jeanbauer [dot] com for scheduling and speaker fees.



I have designed three hands-on courses and taught two courses in Digital Humanities and Data Analysis.

Weird Data. Spring 2019, Princeton University, FRS 154. I designed this course for the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning to introduce Princeton freshmen to the practical and theoretical challenges of finding, gathering, analyzing, and publishing data.

Data Visualization Lab for Visualizations in the Humanities: From the Cabinet of Curiosities to the Geoparser. Fall 2013, Brown University, AMST 2661. I created and taught a weekly, hands-on, 1-hour Data Visualization Lab that was designed to support a graduate class on the theory of visualization, and to prepare students to complete a digital humanities project by the end of the semester. (Faculty Instructors Steven Lubar, American Studies, and Massimo Riva, Italian Studies)

From Vellum to Very Large Databases: Historical Sources Past, Present, and Future. Spring 2010, University of Virginia, HIST 4501. The course focused on the changing nature of historical sources and the implications of these changes for the practice of academic history. See the syllabus


I designed and led two year-long instructional cohorts through the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton. No prior technical experience was required for either cohort.

Social Network Analysis Cohort, 2016-2017. Taught humanities graduate students how to formulate research questions amenable to network analysis and then identify, gather, clean, analyze, and visualize social network data relevant to their research.

Database Cohort, 2017-2018. Taught humanities and social science graduate students and lecturers how to model their data and research questions as a logical system, then implement the model in commandline SQL, and query their database to answer research questions. Worked with CDH development and design team to create common development environment in Vagrant with python3, MySQL, and Django.


Artist's Statement

I don't really have one.

I hope my photographs give you an excuse to be quiet and thoughtful for a moment. That may be the greatest gift art can bestow.

Click on "Interloper (Lemon and Eggs)" to see more.

Prints for Sale

To purchase a print contact me directly. Prices range depending on size and framing. Shipping and handling charges will vary by location.

Bio + CV

Professional Resume | Curriculum Vitae

I have over 10 years of experience as a director, technologist, researcher, and consultant in digital humanities—the application of computational tools and methods to traditional humanities disciplines such as literature, history, and the arts. I have led successful design, migration, visualization, and software projects involving heterogeneous data sources, and team members with a diversity of skills and expertise.

My love of great stories and unusual solutions led me to the early days of American diplomacy, when Benjamin Franklin and John Quincy Adams were writing a nation into existence from across the ocean. I developed Project Quincy and The Early American Foreign Service Database to enable and showcase the work of my dissertation “Republicans of Letters: The Early American Foreign Service as Information Network, 1775-1825.”

While a graduate student at the University of Virginia, I transcribed, translated, and decrypted letters for The Papers of James Madison, and I was a founding employee and Design Researcher for Documents Compass, a digital consulting organization for documentary editors and a service provider of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. While at Documents Compass I developed data structures and workflow migrations to create The People of the Founding Era. Through these projects I saw firsthand the need for inclusive technical documentation, which brought me to information design and creating DAVILA.

I joined the Brown University Library as their first Digital Humanities Librarian in 2011. In my time at Brown I collaborated with Jim Egan to build the Mapping Colonial Americas Publishing Project, an interactive exploration of the Brown Library catalog which brought together my interest in data visualization and the history of the book with Jim's background in Colonial American literature.

While at Brown, I became the first Executive Secretary for centerNet, the international professional organization for directors of digital humanities centers. During my three years at centerNet (2012-2015), I worked with Co-Directors Kay Walter and Neil Fraistat in the successful transition of centerNet to a formal, dues-paying Constituent Organization of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. I co-authored membership guidelines and new organizational by-laws and coordinated annual membership drives with Oxford University Press. I wrote the annual reports and served as Chair of the first Nominating Committee for the International Executive Steering Committee.

I became the first Associate Director of the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton (CDH) in September 2014, and became Research Director in 2018. In my time at Princeton I built the CDH into a robust center with a wide-ranging project portfolio and recognized leaders in research project management. I created the Development and Design Team within the CDH to envision and ship stable, extensible, compelling, documented, and intuitive full-stack software solutions to thorny research questions involving messy data.

In 2019 I left the academy to become an independent consultant and writer.

I have been photographing my world since I received my first SLR at age 13, looking for unusual angles and perspectives on cityscapes, people, mountains, and anything else I see. The look of this website has been designed around my photograph of the pigments in Frida Kahlo’s studio in Mexico City.